Futurama Had Lost Its Spark
It’s over: No more boozing robots, ridiculous deliveries to Omicron Persei 8, or “Good news, Everyone!” Comedy Central is canceling Futurama with the end of the upcoming eighth season.
As much as I love this show, I’m not too sad to see the series end. Futurama seemingly had nine lives, getting canceled in 2003 by Fox only to return in 2007 for a series of four direct-to-DVD movies before being revived in 2010 by Comedy Central. However, the show has lost its spark.
Since its revival, there’s been an increasing emphasis on sex between the characters. In the second of the two premiere episodes, “In-a-Gadda-Da-Leela,” Zapp Brannigan and Leela have to destroy a death sphere named “V-GINY,” which spares the Planet Express crew so long as they have sex with each other. In last summer’s “Naturama,” the Planet Express workers’ voices and personalities are transferred to various animals. In one segment, Leela and Fry are salmon who overcome the odds to mate with each other. In the next, the Professor and Mom (of MomCorp) are tortoises who overcome the odds to mate with each other. Finally, Bender portrays the “beach master” in a group of sea lions, determined to mate with everything in sight. The non-raunch episodes (“The Duh-Vinci Code,” “The Thief of Baghead,” etc.) had interesting sci-fi problems of the week but weren’t all that funny.
It makes sense that after the move to Comedy Central, Futurama would get a little more PG-13. But the show also used to be pretty clever and, more importantly, hilarious. “Where No Fan Has Gone Before” set up a story about Star Trek fandom by borrowing from dozens of Trek episodes. “Three Hundred Big Boys” gave me my very favorite line to use when visiting particularly fancy museums: “One art, please!” “The Sting” delivered a heartbreaking love story driven by hallucinogenic honey. The dirtiest things got was “Spanish Fry,” in which Lrrr, of Omicron Persei 8, threatens to take Fry’s “lower horn” as an aphrodisiac — but the focus was really on Lrrr’s marital problems. Poor guy really just needs to spend more time with his wife. Not one episode of the past two seasons stands out the way that these episodes do. And I haven’t even mentioned “Jurassic Bark,” the cry-your-eyes-out episode where Fry is momentarily reunited with his dog.
Season 4 ended with the fantastic musical episode, “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” in which Fry trades his hands with the devil so he can play the holophor and win Leela’s love. Best line: “I forgot you could tempt me with things I want.” It’s easy to see why audiences desired more Futurama, the show was at its creative and artistic peak. After the straight-to-DVD episodes, and now this second revival, the show is running out of steam.
It’s time to put the Planet Express ship back in the hangar.